06 July 2012

Be Visible: The Politics of Presence in Bolivia + the World

 (Photo Credit: Alejandro Fernandez Gutierrez- check out link at bottom :) ) 

Ethical Fashion. What comes to mind? An organic cotton t-shirt made in a small, safe, and beautiful factory where all the talented seamstresses, pattern makers and sample hands are paid a living and respectable wage? Is it a recycled fashion item that helps to keep un-biodegradable materials and fabrics out of the incinerators and global landfills (i.e. like in Wasteland?) OR- in addition to all that- is it a garment that represents a greater cause than itself- fashion for political expression, protest couture, or raising awareness of the fact that people- in 2012- are STILL fighting for their political presence?

My friends, I beg to argue that it is-all of that.
(Photo Credit: "Culture of Bolivia" Wiki)

There is so much to say about the fact that people who live, work, contribute and keep this USofA going are STILL fighting for their political presence in this country. But let's explore...just for a sec...La Paz, Bolivia, a city in a country with an amazing style culture of pollera skirts, bowler hats, and centuries of swag, also where Cuban-Dominican filmmaker, Sisa Bueno, volunteered about 6 years ago, and embarked on a journey that would forever change her life- and the lives of those she met. During her journeys, she witnessed the election of the first indigenous president, Evo Morales, and in 2009, Bolivia's declaration as a plurinational state.

(Photo from We of Saya kickstarter page)
Before then, Afro-descendents from Bolivia were not even counted as part of the census.

Imagine having your entire identity ignored politically...no matter how fierce you look in your upcycled fashion gear, Jeffrey Campbell vegan litas, and artfully styled swag. You are still not considered a political agent.

So in styling yourself today, imagine the power you could have not only bringing visibility to your own artfully swagged out presence, but you could helped to bring visibility to tens of THOUSANDS of people.

And you can do that by helping to create this film.

Miss Bueno is in her last 5 days of her Kickstarter that she needs to take 6 years of thoughtful visual documentation, research, and love to bring visibility to the struggle that Afro-descendents in Bolivia faced getting recognized in their country. (I donated! And hopefully you can too! You'll even get a t-shirt to add to your ethical fashion collection!)

And truly, having this film, We of the Saya/Nosotros los de la Saya, around will not only raise awareness of identity in Bolivia, it will help our Americas and our global world at large. Imagine all the other cases where this same fight for visibility is still taking place could have a bit more light shed upon it?

So ethical fashion- Fair trade? Yes. Organic? Yes. Authentic (non-paternalistic) cause fashion + artistry? YES! SIM! SI! OUI!.

Now go forth, stand out and be visible,

p.s. WANT MORE INFO? Check out this excellent interview.

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